Bread and Butter Painting

Holding an exhibition offers a myriad of interesting discussions with the general public and can in many ways give the artist some useful statistics about their art. We had hundreds of visitors during the two weeks of our 'Three Palettes' Exhibition (Fremantle, Western Australia 1-17th 2016) and along with the regular art admirer, we had quite a few artists and art professionals through our doors. Everyone has an opinion on art and I love it.
copyright Mia Laing 2016 Art Appreciation. Moore's gallery Fremantle Art by Mia Laing and Jan Brown (Ballet)
I kept a notebook on hand and jotted down comments, suggestions and ideas as they came to mind during the show. Whether you are a newbie artist or a seasoned professional or sitting somewhere in the middle of these two (like I am) its always good to remain objective and open to suggestion about your art journey. 98% of comments will be positive but take note of the not so generous comments...weed out the rubbish ones and improve upon the few that may actually contain an element of truth. We can always learn from our mistakes if we take criticism favourably. The most prevalent comment, though not necessarily about my art, was 'I wish I had bigger walls'. It appears with our open plan housing these days, we have less wall space for big paintings. People mostly have room for one bold statement piece and for a couple of smaller paintings.
© Mia Laing 2016 'Iridescent Sea' - "Reflection' - 'Unpaired Pears' oil paintings by Mia Laing
I love painting big but the problem is they just don't sell as well as my smaller paintings. Big paintings also equal a larger price tag and with our economic doldrums, not everyone can afford a bigger painting. In the quest to make my art work as a business, I have to paint smaller than I would like. I call these my bread and butter paintings. I sold 13 paintings during the exhibition...just two of these were of a bigger size. The rest were a mismatch of smaller items (and therefore smaller prices) suiting smaller walls and tighter budgets. As I look back at my sales over a number of years, not only does size matter, but the genre matters too. Excluding my commissioned paintings which are nearly always large figurative works, my smaller still-life paintings sell at a faster rate than my figurative work. The second most common comment at the exhibition was...'I love your beach and underwater paintings, but would like it to be me in the painting.' People don't always want someone else hanging on their walls unless there is a clear emotive response to the work or it is painted in such a way as to depict the essence of a person. I get that, but it won't stop me from painting people!
Award winning West Australian Artist, Mia Laing 36x30 ' / 91x76cm 'Shoreline' oil on canvas 2015 copyright Mia Laing 2015 'Shoreline' oil on canvas 2015
I class myself primarily as a figurative artist...who also does still-life. For each scrumptious figurative piece I indulge in, I paint a still-life. Cake versus Bread and butter. Figurative work (skin tones, facial features, hands etc) needs continual practise and the still-life pays for that practise! At some point, one of my genres may overtake the other...I am hoping it will be my people, but it may not. It may be that pet portraits overtake both my figurative and still-life work! I'm just going to let it unwind over time. My point is...Bread and butter painting has its place. Maybe its that you paint your B&B paintings Monday through Friday and make a cake on the weekend? Whatever it can have your cake...and eat it too! Mia x
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